When Is Stress Okay?
Stress is what happens when the world doesn’t do what we want or expect. And unless you live in a bubble stress is unavoidable. It’s a byproduct of breathing, loving, walking, feeling, working, and not working. Anything that impacts our systems and makes demands is a stress.
Despite its bad press, stress isn’t always bad. In moderate doses, it’s helpful-keeps us alert and effective. Mild pre-surgical anxiety actually improves recovery rates and boosts the immune system. Hans Selye, the father of what is now called Stress Medicine, called this “Eustress.”
However, stress is not the same as strain. Traditional stress management focuses on manipulating the external factors (smoking, work hours, etc..), which is necessary & helpful, but incomplete. We know this because people can be surrounded by lunacy, chaos and crisis and still remain calm and clear. What are they doing differently? The stresses in their lives haven’t changed. So it must be something they’re doing inside themselves.
How to Hurry Up & Slow Down.
While stress may be unavoidable, strain is not. Perhaps you’ve noticed-it’s not the stress itself that makes us so unhappy, but our response to it. For many of us, relief can come with a consistent, practiced change in our thinking. Here are a few basic rules to remember as you go through your day:
1. When having a tough time with something (e.g., traffic), instead of saying to yourself “I’m stressed out,” say, “I’m straining.” It puts the accent on the internal process and gives you the control you need to change it.
2. Remember who you are-you are not your appointments. You are not your disappointments.
3. Be where your feet are. Use all the senses you have at your disposal. See, feel, smell, hear, taste. Widen the angle on your lens.
4. Notice your breathing as you strain & then breathe differently. It sends a message to your brain and initiates a chemical reaction to soften and slow your whole body.
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